Staunton, February 3 – For most people in the Russian Federation, the history of this or that region begins when it came under Russian control, but plans to gather DNA data from all the peoples of the Russian Federation will change that both for Russians and perhaps even more importantly for non-Russian nations within the borders of that country.
On February 3, Rossisskaya Gazeta reported that Nikolay Kropachev, the rector of St. Petersburg State University, plans to launch a three-year program to gather DNA data “about all ethnic groups populating Russia.” Such a project, he said, would bring Russia into line with what many other countries have already done.
The project, the rector said, would allow “historians and ethnographers to better understand the movement of various ethnic groups, permit pharmacists and doctors more precisely to understand” which medicines work with which populations, and even allow researchers to predict who will be more likely to suffer from which medical problems.
But the most important thing such a project will do was highlighted not by Kropachev but by Siberian writer Aleksey Rudevich who pointed out that DNA studies will allow various nations to learn about their histories long before the Russians came and even to find out the role each of them played in human origins.
In the case of Siberia, he said, many will learn that there were people there long before the Russian conquest and that they were linked to many peoples from whom they have long been separated such as the indigenous populations of North America and China and that they have formed a “melting pot” of peoples separate and distinct from the Russian world.
Thus it appears likely that this academic study will have important social and political consequences, leading people in Siberia and elsewhere to question the Moscow-centric and Russia-centric histories they have long been exposed to and to think about themselves as self-standing and even independent groups.